EST analysis of the immune-relevant genes in Chinese amphioxus challenged with lipopolysaccharide

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It is generally accepted that the adaptive immune system is only present in vertebrates but not in invertebrates. Amphioxus is the most basal chordate and hence is an important reference to the evolution of the adaptive immune system. Here, a cDNA library of lipopolysaccharide-challenged amphioxus was constructed in order to identify immune genes. A total of 3024 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were examined and 63 out of 398 annotated genes (16.3%) appeared related to immunity. Most of them encode cell adhesion molecules or signal proteins that are involved in immune responses. Although the key molecules such as TCR, MHC, Ig or VLR involved in the adaptive immune system were not identified in our database, we demonstrated the presence of histocompatibility-relevant genes and lymphocyte immune signaling-relevant genes. These findings support the statement that amphioxus presents some components that may be recruited by adaptive immune processes.

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